The Corner

The Devil, Mark Helprin, and Us

Mark Helprin is my guest on a new Q&A podcast. After I wrote a piece on Donald Trump and the “F-word” — “fascist” — Mark had this to say, about the major-party nominees this year: “ . . . we are skewered on the devil’s fork of fascism lite and communism lite, both of which can change rather speedily into heavies.”

We talk about this on our podcast, of course. Mark makes an analogy to the presidential campaign of 1984: Reagan was the conservative, Mondale the liberal. But some extremists thought that Reagan was intolerably moderate and favored, say, Lyndon LaRouche. Other extremists thought that Mondale was right-wing, and favored, say, Angela Davis.

It’s as though LaRouche and Davis were the nominees today, says Mark. We’re in a time of criminality and craziness.

Helprin has a lot more to say, naturally. He lets slip that, decades ago, he found HRC “devilishly attractive.” Well, then.

At the end of our podcast, we talk about Swan Lake, for reasons that will be plain. (I had just seen, and will write about, the ballet. Mark wrote up the tale some years ago, with illustrations by the illustrious Chris Van Allsburg.)

When you get Mark Helprin, you don’t get someone out of a cookie cutter: You get Mark Helprin. Which is why people have thrilled to him and his books — Winter’s Tale, A Soldier of the Great War, In Sunlight and in Shadow, etc. — for many years. He is one of the best, and most individual, writers extant.

That ’cast, again, is here.

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